Our first full day here, after our arduous journey, we actually had to go into work and get signed-in, signed-up and all signed over. We have two friends here in Maadi, where our temporary housing is, who offered to drive us in. It was my first daylight foray into Cairo traffic and I'm pleased to say that I only screamed twice. After that, I just held my head in my hands and stared at the floor. Since then, I've gotten much better and rarely have to stare at the floor – sky works well, too.
We were told to bring sheets of our passport pictures to hand out – it was like senior pictures, minus the pearls, plus I didn't sign the backs for anyone (LYLAS and BFF). We now had commissary cards (for some reason I must have not been clear in my delirium-related handwriting and they typed up my card to say my height is 9'7” -- with my weight that makes me quite the waif), and we sat through lots and lots of presentations. Presentations on everything from how to set up DSL in your home here, to what do to when the sandstorms come (apparently we're in sandstorm season now; and if you’re curious, when a sandstorm comes the sky will turn white, and it’s best to be indoors, and if you left the windows down in your car or at home, make sure you have a sturdy broom and shovel), to how to ship packages using the APO, to how to NEVER ride in a Cairo city bus (no worries there, after seeing how crowded they are), to how to try to avoid killing someone on the road and what to do if you DO injure someone with your car (I'm telling you, Caireens have a death wish and I've heard endless stories of them running literally into cars). By presentation number three Ron and I were doing the blinky-stare when you're doing everything you can to not nod off in front of someone. By 3pm we bummed a ride back to Maadi with someone and despite everyone's advice to “Try to stay up until 9pm,” we both collapsed for a few hours.
Later that night we went out to dinner on “Road 9” in Maadi, which is where all the restaurants and shops are, and luckily is right behind our apartment. Our friends took us to a Chinese/Thai place that was really good. I was delighted to have curry with mixed vegetables and tofu (accompanied by the ever-popular "Coca-Cola Light").
Afterwards we walked around a bit, saw the local shops of fruit & veg, silver jewelry, brassware, amazing woodwork, miscellaneous chach-ka, Baskin Robbins and multiple wifi coffee shops. The streets, or sidewalks rather, were very cobbly, with upturned stones, missing stones creating potentially hazardous divets, tree roots, and curbs that Ron lovingly calls “Buns of steel curbs.” These are anywhere from 12”-18” tall, and apparently are designed to prevent cars from parking on the sidewalk. Well, they certainly do that, but they don't prevent cars from parking almost on top of each other. At one corner, we had to go several car-lengths down to even find a space wide-enough for any of us to walk between them – imagine parking rules stating, “park less than a knee's-width apart.”
We stopped in one of the local groceries to get some basics. Ron and I had a very diverse “hospitality kit” in our apartment, however it failed to come with any dish soap or detergent, laundry detergent, or trash bags. So we decided to grab some stuff. The store was very nice, like a gourmet international store, and in our continued delirium (we'll see how long I can continue to blame silly decisions on that), we managed to buy eggs for Ron, some more bread, some bananas, and some totally amazing mango ice cream. Nothing that we needed (but the ice cream had real mangoes chopped up in it at least).